Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Master of Seacliff by Max Pierce

It is 1899, and young Andrew Wyndham has accepted a position tutoring the unruly son of wealthy industrialist Duncan Stewart in the hopes that the work will be brief yet provide an avenue to pay for his passage to France to study art. But Seacliff is a dark mansion enshrouded in near-eternal fog, dark mystery and suspicion—perhaps a reflection of the house’s brooding master. An imposing Blackbeard of a man, Duncan Stewart is both feared and admired by his business associates as well as the people he calls friends, for Stewart may have murdered his own father to gain control of his business.And his home, in which Andrew Wyndham must now reside, holds terrible secrets—secrets that could destroy everyone within its walls. For pure gothic escapism with a decidedly masculine point of view, The Master of Seacliff is an enthralling and satisfying read.

Such a great read and a new author for me.  Very Jane Eyre-ish, not better after all Jane Eyre is a classic, but similar and in my opinion nearly as good.  Duncan definitely has Mr. Rochester's brooding down and Andrew certainly shares Jane's curiosity.  Did Duncan really kill his father & Albert then make it look like murder/suicide?  For that you'll have to read and you really won't know until near the end, I will say that my suspicions changed a few times.  Very rarely does a story come together where every single character has a true purpose and effect on both the tale and the reader.  There is a little something for everyone and just because I have made comparisons to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, don't think this is just a M/M genre retelling of the gothic classic, aspects are remnant but not a copy.  The Master of Seacliff is a story all its own and I am so glad that luck or fate brought it to my eye.


“Why do you hate Duncan so much, Leo?”

Leo gave a loud laugh and turned to view himself in the mirror. “It’s not hatred, Andrew. Pure jealousy.” He lowered his voice. “You see, for all our pretense, my sister and I are not in the best of financial situations. I fear in another generation, the Van Hornes will be back on a boat to the Netherlands, rowing the entire way. Duncan would jump at the opportunity to purchase Glendower Hall and send me packing.”

I wasn’t sure if Leo was honest or if this was another of his inventive tales. “Why?”

He fingered the cuff of my nightshirt, rose from the bed and walked to the door. “I feel the need for a drink. Would you like one?”
I shook my head.

To my surprise, Leo did not leave, but knelt down by the green clock and ran his left hand along the side of the base. In a second, a door popped open at the bottom.

“Steven discovered this. Seems Janina didn’t want to trundle downstairs to get her liquor.” Leo removed a bottle of brandy and two glasses. “Join me? Makes the pain go away.”

“Duncan went overseas looking for Steven. If he didn’t want him back—”

Leo filled his glass, replaced the decanter and closed the secret door.

“As far as that grand display of combing the corners of the earth for his lost love, I’ve come to doubt those motives. My guess is that he actually tracked Steven down.”


“Andrew, Duncan Stewart has contacts all over the world, from heads of state and religious leaders to some of the most dangerous thieves and blackguards since Ali Baba. I suspect he paid Steven to leave, but as a trump, I wouldn’t be surprised if Steven was dispensed with by an assassin shortly after. That would explain why his clothes remain here after so many months. And don’t forget our visitor during the séance.”

Except for the séance, his theory made sense.

“What does that matter, my heir apparent? I see you’ve acquired not only Steven’s wardrobe, but his bedroom as well.” He looked to the door behind the screen and his lips curled at the corners. “And room to spread out. How do you find—”

I was in no mood to be linked to Duncan, especially by Leo Van Horne’s cruel innuendos.

“I’ll be returning to my own room as soon as possible.”

“I most certainly hope so. I’d like to see more of you—” He started lifting the sheet that covered me. When I put my hands down to keep it secure he took my hands in his and kissed them.

“— when you are up and around and free of Duncan.”

“I have no romantic feelings for Duncan, or anyone, Leo.”

Leo’s face lost its color and for the first time, his expression scared me. “Don’t reject me Andrew. You may regret needing a true friend in this house. Steven located some documents. They stated Gordon’s intent to disinherit Duncan. I have them now. If you find anything else, you must come to me at once. I—”

“And what if I believe Duncan innocent?”

“He is fond of you, Andrew. I don’t deny that. Perhaps if you get him to confess…in a moment of weakness…using your charms.”

“Duncan is not guilty of killing Steven,” I said. I wished I could be as confident about the deaths of Gordon and Albert.

“Then prove it to me.” Leo gave a light laugh. “But now, I must fly; until later. Think about what I have told you, and perhaps you’ll be ready for some liquor at tea time. Or, if you get thirsty, remember our hiding place.” He swirled out, all green velvet and gold silk, leaving on the nightstand a small box tied with a bright yellow ribbon.

I clasped my hands together and shook my head. The thought of these two men trying to win my favor put Steven Charles’ fate right out of my mind. Plain Andrew Wyndham, heretofore resigned to a lonely life as a tutor and artist, now attracted two powerful men, in a grand mansion above the ocean.

One a possible murderer; and the other determined to prove it. Seacliff brought me an escape from my old life, but I debated the price of that escape. If Duncan were found guilty, my plans of going to France would be just a dream. As for Leo’s thoughts on Steven Charles, I suspected that was a blatant attempt to discredit Duncan, and cast himself in a better light. I couldn’t believe Duncan would have the man he loved killed. The man he loved—would I ever experience that?

Author Bio:
Max Pierce enjoyed a successful career as a Senior Executive in the apparel industry while he developed his writing skills.

As a journalist, he began writing on Hollywood history in 1999 for CLASSIC IMAGES magazine. He has contributed to numerous anthologies and is the author of the Lambda Literary Award-nominated gothic suspense, THE MASTER OF SEACLIFF and the romantic comedy AT THE CROSSROADS, both published by Lethe Press.

He has called Los Angeles home since 1988.



The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Madow

Title: The Prophecy of Shadows
Author: Michelle Madow
Series: Elementals #1
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: January 26, 2015
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Filled with magic, thrilling adventure, and sweet romance, Elementals is the first in a new series that fans of Percy Jackson and The Secret Circle will love!

When Nicole Cassidy moves from sunny Georgia to gloomy New England, the last thing she expects is to learn that her homeroom is a cover for a secret coven of witches. Even more surprisingly ... she's apparently a witch herself. Despite doubts about her newfound abilities, Nicole is welcomed into this ancient circle of witches and is bedazzled by their powers--and, to her dismay, by Blake--the school's notorious bad-boy.

Girls who get close to Blake wind up hurt. His girlfriend Danielle will do anything to keep them away, even if she must resort to using dark magic. But the chemistry between Blake and Nicole is undeniable, and despite wanting to protect Nicole from Danielle's wrath, he finds it impossible to keep his distance.

When the Olympian Comet shoots through the sky for the first time in three thousand years, Nicole, Blake, Danielle, and two others in their homeroom are gifted with mysterious powers. But the comet has another effect--it opens the portal to the prison world that has contained the Titans for centuries. After an ancient monster escapes and attacks Nicole and Blake, it's up to them and the others to follow the clues from a cryptic prophecy so that they can save their town ... and possibly the world.

“Run!” Blake yelled, grabbing my arm and pulling me off the merry-go-round.

It spun under our weight, and I held onto the metal bars, pushing off them to leap over the edge. The cedar chips on the ground cushioned my landing. The car was behind us, which would mean running towards the monstrous hound, so I bolted for the playground, hurrying up a ladder of rubber tires that led to the closest platform. Blake followed close behind. The second he was up he took the lighter out of his pocket and aimed a blue fireball at the tires. They melted to the ground seconds before the hound reached them.

It looked up at us and growled—a low, menacing sound that if I spoke dog I would have assumed meant “I’m going to have you for dinner”—and tried to jump onto the platform. It missed by only a few inches.

Blake flicked on his lighter and threw a fireball at its chest, but the hound jumped to the side to get out of the way. It turned all four of its eyes up at us, one head letting out a deep roar as the other snapped its teeth together, taking bites out of the air.

My hands shook, and I gripped one of the log posts behind me for support. “Have you learned how to fight these things in homeroom?” I asked Blake, my voice rising in panic.

He threw another fireball, and it missed the hound again. “No,” he snapped, the flames lighting up his face. “Fighting legendary creatures isn’t on the syllabus.”

“Maybe it should be,” I said as he launched another ball of fire, hitting the hound on its front paw. Both of its heads yelped in pain. The scorpion tail lowered between its legs, and it growled again before turning away from us and running around the side of the playground, woodchips flying behind it as it gained speed.

My heart pounded, and I looked around to figure how to get off the platform. The exit was a slide that dropped off at the monkey bars. I could get down and run to the car, but I didn’t know where the hound was, and leaving the platform could give it the perfect opportunity to pounce.

Then the hound growled again. I turned around, spotting it clamoring up a ladder of logs that led to a nearby platform. Only a wobbly bridge separated that platform from our own. My entire body shook, and I moved closer to Blake, grabbing his arm for support.

The hound reached the top of the platform, and its glowing eyes narrowed, ready to attack.

Not having anywhere else to go, I launched myself down the slide and hurried to the monkey bars, climbing up the ladder and hoisting myself on top of them. Gripping the sides, I crawled to the center bar, but the ground spun beneath me, my lungs tightening as I looked down. I had to take a few deep breaths to steady myself. A six-foot fall wasn’t deadly. Now wasn’t the time to let my fear of heights get to me.

Blake scrambled behind me, and I turned around to make sure he wasn’t hurt. Sweat dripped down the sides of his face from the flames, but other than that he looked okay. He took his lighter out again, holding it up in preparation to create another fireball.

I looked back at the hound in time to see it run along the bridge and hurl itself towards us. It bared its teeth as it flew through the air, its arms outstretched as it came closer to the monkey bars. But it must not have had enough force behind the jump, because it fell to the ground with a loud thump. It stood and shook the woodchips off its fur, a low growl coming from somewhere deep in its throat as it turned its heads up to look at us.

Before I could say anything to Blake about how completely screwed we were, he threw two balls of fire towards the hound, hitting both of its faces. It howled and collapsed, whimpering as it buried its snouts in its paws. The smell of burnt skin filled the air. My stomach swirled with nausea, and I lifted a hand to my nose to block out the smell.

Only a few seconds passed before it stood up again. The fur on its faces had changed into a charred grey. Its yellow eyes glowed brighter now, both snouts chomping madly in the air, strings of saliva dripping to the ground as it waited to devour whichever one of us lost our balance first.

Author Bio:
Michelle Madow grew up in Baltimore, graduated Rollins College in Orlando, and now lives in Boca Raton, Florida. She wrote her first book in her junior year of college, and has been writing novels since. Some of her favorite things are: reading, pizza, traveling, shopping, time travel, Broadway musicals, and spending time with friends and family. Michelle has toured across America to promote her books and to encourage high school students to embrace reading and writing. Someday, she hopes to travel the world for a year on a cruise ship.

Visit Michelle online and be sure to sign up for her newsletter and follow her on Amazon to get instant updates on her books!



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